Usually by the third grade American children are introduced to science and simple science experiments. A simple and somewhat fascinating experiment is the attempt to mix oil and water, particularly if the child has chosen their favorite food coloring to add to the oil. Any adult who has spent much time at all in the kitchen preparing food has also discovered the impossibility of truly mixing these two ingredients. They are considered immiscible liquids, meaning they will not blend together to form a homogeneous liquid. Homogeneous means “of the same or similar kind or nature”. They never become one.
However, did you know that under certain circumstances you can force them to “blend”? Adding an emulsifier such as dishwashing detergent to the mix will bind the oil to the water at a molecular level, and if mixed very well will appear to be one substance. But closer examination, such as under a microscope, will reveal that the two ingredients still remain immiscible. It is impossible for them to become one.
The Apostle Paul wrote much in his letters to the church about two things that just don’t mix: grace and the law. No matter how much you put them in the same church, the same person, the same heart, they can never be reconciled with each other and become one. Trying to blend these two requires adding an ingredient that will hold them together – perhaps our own opinions of what we think is right? Or maybe another person that has beguiled us into believing that our works are still required to obtain God’s favor? It also requires a great deal of shaking or stirring to give the appearance that they belong together. We may be able to make this look really good from the outside, but once under the microscope of the Spirit of God, it is always revealed that they can never become one. They are not of the same nature.
The law was all about what we “do”. Grace is all about what He did. The law placed us in bondage. Grace set us free. The law put us under a curse. Grace redeemed us from the curse of the law. The law exposed our sin. Grace covered our sin.
God still hates sin, but He took care of the sin problem once and for all when Jesus died. Sin will still bring damage and harm to our lives if we don’t face it, but grace has provided the power to resist the temptation to sin. And if we do sin, grace provided an Advocate who maintains our cause – faith in Jesus that provided forgiveness. Grace is not permission to sin, it is permission to accept the forgiveness for our sins – past, present, and future! Grace is the peace that no matter how badly I’ve messed up or how many times I’ve missed the mark, God never leaves me or forsakes me and is always for me and never against me.
I’ve spent a lifetime as a Christian trying to mix these together. And you know what? I just kept things stirred up all the time. Peace and turmoil. Fear and love. Joy and despair. Bondage and freedom. Victory and defeat. Some days it would be glaringly obvious that I was trying to live under the law – the pressure I put on myself to perform well as a Christian, to be a good church member, to keep up the appearance that I had it together. Other days, you would have to look very closely to see the particles of law floating around – the way I looked at and judged the actions of others, the subtle attempts to manipulate someone through guilt and put them under the law, too.
It’s exhausting! And foolish. What prisoner in their right mind being set free – no longer a dept to be paid – tries to work his way back into prison?
“In this freedom Christ has made us free – and complete liberated us – stand fast then and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery which you have once put off.” Galatians 5:1
Saying “yes” to God’s grace doesn’t cause us to be arrogant or inflated with pride. Looking at the amazing forgiveness and love and peace that have been freely given to us brings humility. It causes us to be completely free to love God back, not trying to hide any part of ourselves from Him.
We’ve been accepted. Quit striving to work your way into His approval. Just say “yes” and take it!!